stories of a failed holy man


squirrel
November 30, 2009, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: ,

i watched a squirrel death match the other day. two squirrels on a fragile tree branch, pushing, fighting for position. the survival of the fittest. evolution in its rawest form. one will survive, the other will go to the eternal abyss. actually, i’m pretty sure they were just playing, because neither of them died. but it was fun in that moment to pretend it was life or death, 20 feet off the ground. they should hire squirrels for UFC. it would be more entertaining that way. i’m pretty sure someone will beat me to death for that statement.

i’ve always loved squirrels. my wife hates them, thinks they are rodents. i told her she was a rodent and i slept on the couch a couple nights. not really, she actually just slapped me and we called it even. that’s how our relationship works. the food chain starts at the bottom with me, then squirrels in the middle, our daughters second in command, with her at the top. general melissa. she makes me call her that. for the record, all of that is made up. she will read this and then make it a reality if i don’t ensure everyone knows i am kidding. we have a very loving relationship where we work together and share everything we have. (she forced me to type this! someone save me!)

our neighbor has a bird feeder in her tree, and it attracts squirrels all day long. at any given moment you can look out our big front window and see the squirrels playing and eating to their hearts delight. squirrels remind me of my grandpa peterson. some of our greatest memories involved 4 legged critters. which sounds weird, but it makes sense if you know him. i remember living on the old dauphin campus of WCC. i would always go to grandma and grandpa’s house just across the field. i’m not really sure how it started, but one day we ended up outside trying to feed the squirrels. throwing pieces of bread everywhere to get them to come out of hiding. many did, but there was only one that was truly brave. he would have completely annihilated the competition in my USFC (ultimate squirrel fighting championship). others would come within a few feet, but this one would come right up to our feet. one day, when we quit throwing the food, he ran right up my leg and launched himself off a second later. grandpa decided to try an experiment. we got some more food and put it on top of our hats. the squirrel crawled up our legs and bodies all the way on top of our head. then he would sit there eating his prize. we would hold the bread in our hands and let him just chill on our arms while he ate. one day he just didn’t show up. i think it was winter, so maybe he was hibernating. or maybe he became a snob and was too good for our bread. either way, that was my grandpa. crazy memories of weird rodents. and i’m not talking about joylyn. SNAP! jk lol brb.

he always used to take us gopher hunting. he had a little semi-automatic 22 and we would drive the dirt roads of weyburn scouring the fields for rodents. i remember this one specific time when i was older. i must have been in high school. grandpa wanted to take me gopher hunting. i didn’t really want to go. after all, i was a punk with an attitude. i hardly wanted to go with my grandpa to shoot gophers. but i went. i can’t remember whether i gave in or if my mom made me go. but i’m glad i did. because it’s one of the best memories i have of him. i wasn’t used to holding a gun. it felt awkward in my hands. but grandpa always gave me the first shot. i kept missing our targets and he finally realized it was because i wasn’t using the sight. he thought that was pretty funny. in fact, he laughed for a good few minutes about it. and not just a chuckle. a deep laugh from deep inside of him. i laughed because i couldn’t believe he thought it was so funny. if he gave a light little chuckle, i would have understood. but he was killing himself laughing. grandpa making fun of me. but not in a rude way. he just genuinely found joy in simple things and was so glad to be there with me in that moment. for years after that, he brought up that moment. and he would laugh. half at me, half with me. because i forgot to use the sight. that’s why rodents remind me of my grandpa. he was a man who would find any little thing and bring out the joy and life in it. whether it was a joke, squirrels, gophers, fishing, telling stories…he even disliked george bush as much as i did. i remember him always being happy to be with me. whatever we were doing. i wish i had gotten to know him better. i’m just thinking of my grandpa lots lately. and all these little things i remember that brought him joy are reminding me of the best time of my life. with a grandpa who loved me until he died. i hope i can be like him someday. he was a good man.



take the headphones off
November 18, 2009, 5:20 am
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , , , , ,

i know this was supposed to be the story time blog where i relate stories of my past in funny/emotional ways so you can laugh/cry in your pillow and think about my brilliant reflections. at least in my head that’s what i hoped for this to be, inspiring millions to greatness. i was even building my own sign like McDonald’s that says “over 1 billion served”, but they shut me down for copyright infringement. i intend fully to get back to my goofy stories. after this…

i had this unreal, truly epic moment tonight. and not epic, like a teenager saying the new britney spears song is soooo epic. really epic. it was unlike any other. my state of mind lately has been somewhere between weary and apathetic. i have struggled to find the passion that once drove me to stupidity and hope that their could be such a thing as a just world where the rich and powerful work towards bringing the poor and oppressed to an equal standard of living. where christians give a crap, and do something, about the state of those all around them suffering in poverty and loneliness. lately, that has felt impossible. but there was a time when i believed in it. with all my heart. and without that, i don’t think i would still be a Christian today. maybe God would have found some other way to reach me, like through Lee Strobel writing a personal letter to me entitled “the case for Blair being a Christian”. but i doubt it. realizing that the heart of our God beats for the poor and oppressed stirred my heart in a way nothing else could. for some reason along the way, i have struggled to find the same heart and passion that drove me before.

tonight i was leaving my Christian Social Ethics college class. we had just discussed issues like prostitution, corporations that hurt and abuse their workers and the environment, and fair trade. my mind was racing. it was stuff i had heard and known for a few years. someone mentioned in class that it feels like we can’t accomplish that much, and how not supporting one corporation as one single person would not stop the injustice. and i started thinking that they were right. as much as i wish me buying fair trade coffee would make a difference and change the heart of the wealthy elite everywhere, i had to admit there was much truth in what she said. one person can only do so much. we aren’t all gandhi, or mother theresa. and i started to feel that familiar helplessness that i’ve grown accustomed to. that deadening of my heart and mind, so i wouldn’t have to think about it. i started to think about my fantasy hockey league, and how i was so happy to be kicking the crap out of nic olson on this given week. i started to think about how i needed new struts on my car, and housework and other things to distract me. i was a couple minutes from my house and i put on a new CD i had gotten that day. i had heard the song once and enjoyed the tune, so i put it back on track #6. i hadn’t heard the words the first time, so i decided to listen closely this time in order to further distract me from caring. here they are…

Headphones-Jars of Clay
I don’t have to hear it, if I don’t want to
I can drown this out, pull the curtains down on you
It’s a heavy world, it’s too much for me to care
If I close my eyes, it’s not there

With my headphones on, with my headphones on
With my headphones on, with my headphones on

We watch television…but the sound is something else
Just a song played against the drama, so the hurt is never felt
I take in the war-fires, and I’m chilled by the current events
It’s so hopeless, but there’s a pop song in my

Headphones on, in my headphones on
With my headphones on, with my headphones on

At the Tube Stop, you sit down across from me
(I can see you looking back at me)
I think I know you
By the sad eyes that I see
I want to tell you (It’s a heavy world)
Everything will be okay
You wouldn’t hear it (I don’t want to have to hear it)
So we go our separate ways…

With our headphones on, with our headphones on
With our headphones on, with our headphones on
I don’t wanna be the one who tries to figure it out
I don’t need another reason I should care about you
You don’t want to know my story
You don’t want to own my pain
Living in a heavy, heavy world
And there’s a pop song in my head
I don’t want to have to hear it

and i could feel God speaking to me based on what was going through my head and heart. so i kept driving. i went past my house and kept listening as i had only heard part of the song. and i drove the loop around my neighborhood and came to the area close to my house where the train tracks ran by. at the same moment a train started to rumble past and on each train car were weapons of war. tanks, humvees, etc…train car after train car piled with weapons of war, designed to kill and maim. and i had to stop driving because i knew that God was trying to get my attention. and i watched the cars fly past within a block of my house. i started to think of where those things were headed and how many people they would kill. and i started to think of the companies that built these weapons for a massive profit. and how corporations make billions of dollars off of war. and in my state, you might think the overwhelming flood of depression might consume me in that moment. the hopelessness. the feeling of being lost and useless. but instead, i felt desperately inspired. i don’t know why. i can’t tell you why tanks and weapons inspired me to take up a fight of a different kind. but in that moment i knew i had a choice. a choice to quit, or a choice to move forward. and fight with all my heart. and give my life to fighting for things that God cares about. and i thought about whether my small piece of work would make a difference and realized it didn’t matter what i thought. because if i am following God’s heart and direction…then nothing else mattered. to love God and love people is all that matters. and whether i feel hopeless or not does not stop the Kingdom of God from being right here and right now. so i have a choice. do i enter God’s Kingdom? or do i quit? and i know i can’t quit. i can’t walk away. because God saved my life. in a more than dying for my sins kind of way, although i don’t mean to diminish that at all. he gave me purpose. and desire. and passion. and life. and for this, i have to give myself fully to Him. i am done sitting on the fence and feeling sorry for myself. i don’t know what this means. but i know i am not lacking passion tonight. and that’s all that matters right now.

i know my moment won’t speak to you the way it spoke to me. but look for your moment. because God is trying to speak to you right now.



in remembrance…
November 11, 2009, 6:43 am
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: ,

they are a special breed of human. to be willing to give up one’s life for something you believe in is a noble act, one that i fear i cannot emulate. and whether you agree with the reasons for a war being fought or not, you cannot question the heart of those going to stand for what they believe in. the rest of us can learn a valuable lesson from the men and women who put others before themselves. i am inspired by those who would give their lives for strangers. who give of themselves and take time from their families to fight for something larger than themselves. could i do what they do? i don’t think i could.

it’s time to put politics aside for a change. it’s time to honor those who have given their lives. it’s time to be grateful for what they have done. it’s time to be unified in remembering people who are and were brave, strong and larger than life!

i have never known war, or been affected by a family member or loved one being a part of war. i don’t understand war, or the politicians reasons for waging war. i don’t like war. in fact, i hate war, and i don’t know how to end war. but i respect those willing to stand and fight for what they believe in. and today, we should all remember those who have gone before us fighting for what they believe in. and if you see a service man or woman today, shake their hand and tell them you admire them. they have given their lives. what have we done?



expectations
November 10, 2009, 5:20 pm
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , ,

Expectations: Caedmon’s Call

That boy had the highest of expectations
And he heard that Jesus would fill him up
Maybe something got lost in the language
If this was full, then why bother?

This was not the way it looked on the billboard
Smiling family beaming down on the interstate

You know that we all try to blame someone
But our dreams won’t rise up from their sleep
And the reaching of the steeple felt like one more
Expensive ad for something cheap

This was not the way it looked on the billboard
Smiling family beaming down on the interstate

Dressed up nice for the congregation
Scared somebody’s gonna find him out
Through the din and the clatter of the hallelujahs
A stained glass Jesus sings

This was not the way it looked on the billboard
Smiling family beaming down on the interstate

i’ve been thinking a lot lately about my church family. i love my church family. i love the leadership in our church. i love how they lead. they truly give fresh meaning to “shepherding” a church. they guide, gently. with patience and love. and i have never been anywhere in my life where i have known family the way i do here at glen elm church of christ.

the description of church in this beautiful song is too often the case. an expensive ad for something cheap. things often get lost in our church language. if this is full, then why bother…? we cheat people out of relationships with God for flash and pizazz in hopes of filling the pews. i am thankful to be a part of a church that is not like this. that genuinely guides our church towards Jesus.

on the best of days, i feel like a broken man. unworthy of God’s love. and i don’t understand it. i mean, how could God love me? when i examine myself, there is no way that I am worthy. when i look at the church as a whole in our society, i wonder how God must feel when he sees what we have turned his church into…him into. but i look at my church and i see faces. i see beautiful people trying with all their hearts to see God and live the life he wants for them. i see beyond the building. i see the heart of preacher man jason, and how he constantly empties himself so our church can know God and be filled. i see our elders, gently guiding us forward with love and compassion, with wisdom. i see people that i sometimes butt heads with, and i can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that i love them. even when i disagree with them, and even when i won’t admit it in the heat of the moment. i see how our church welcomes in young people from the community and lets them be who they are in our midst. they don’t try to change them, or clean them up first. they simply love them. i see the willingness of people to step out of their comfort to reach out to someone who needs a hand. i see beauty all around.

our church isn’t a utopia. i don’t mean to paint our church as such. we are broken. a broken church that is full of broken people. but i love them. i am sure many who attend churches will examine their church and see similar things that i do. i desperately hope so. too many people see the picture of church described in the song. but i just wanted to say that i am thankful to be where i am. my faith is weak and i would be lost without my family to hold me and guide me. i pray more churches can change this picture. just thought that needed to be said today.



son of a preacher man
November 5, 2009, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , , , ,

ace-ventura04i’m not the preaching type. i tend to ramble. get confused. make fart jokes.
i preached one time a few months back, and after a lady told me i should take public speaking lessons. in the famous words of ace ventura: pet detective…ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLRRRRIGHTY THEN! picture me talking with my bum cheeks (wait…did i really just tell you to do that? i’m sorry for those that actually got a mental picture) and you have a clear picture of ace ventura. funny fact, i also do that during sermons. another reason i need public speaking lessons. but even though i enjoy speaking about things that i care about to other people, i often feel the need to perfect it. to polish it. make it squeaky clean.

i remember my first chapel talk. i was in grade 11. i was a drugged up stoner. but for some reason they gave me a date and time and handed me the microphone. i wasn’t sure what to say because i didn’t really know anything about God, and what i did know i wasn’t sure i believed. so i talked about racism. i had just heard of this band called “PROPAGANDHI”, which would be the antichrist of bands. they dislike christianity intensely. but they taught me that racism was bad. so i shared that message. and when thinking about that talk, i’ve always said that it wasn’t really a chapel talk because it didn’t have anything to do with God. but i think i was closer to the heart of God there then in some more recent talks i’ve done. here’s what i mean.

lately, with a crazy schedule and deadlines bearing down on me, there is some class to teach or bible lesson to give where i feel pressed for time. and i’ve gotten pretty good at just winging it. i go in, ask a few questions, make a couple confessions. badda bing, badda boom. done and done. i don’t know about that. i feel like i am using God to make a living when i do that. because i work in a church, and it’s very simple when your in church culture to just say the right things. make the right hand gestures. stand at the right times. and so i’ve grown accustomed to cheating on God in this way. because i’m not really there. i’m somewhere else. i’m already thinking days ahead. and that isn’t okay. because people deserve more than that. God deserves more than that. and so i think back to that chapel talk about racism. i wasn’t really a christian at the time, but i do believe God was more supportive of that sloppy bit of honesty than he is with my smooth and polished bull. and i do believe that God loves truth. even when spoken by bands like PROPAGANDHI, more than he loves someone professing his name with a phony grin and fake interior who knows how to say the right words. and i am learning that as someone who is passionate about social justice. sometimes i don’t want to talk about it because, honestly, i feel as if that’s all i really talk about. and i don’t want to be preachy. i don’t want to step on toes. so it’s easier to just let opportunities slide. it’s easy to just sit on the sidelines while injustice speeds past you. but i’m tired of that. i have lost my passion that i once held so close to my heart. part of the reason is because i have become so accustomed to saying the right words, polished talk, with no heart behind it. and i’ve lost what i once loved. but i won’t let that happen. not this time. because that is God. a guy named Jim Wallis once cut out all the passages in the bible that dealt with poverty and serving the poor and oppressed. it left a pretty empty bible. and he accused Christians of doing this on a regular basis. that was 30 years ago. not much has changed. small steps have been taken. but not enough. and i need my passion back. i need to preach with everything i have, regardless of how messy it is.

there’s something about being raw and honest that makes you feel more alive. when we fake it, a piece of ourselves die. i have faked a lot over the years. my parents didn’t know i did drugs until i was in grade 11, 2 years after i had started. every once in a while you meet someone who is just so brutally honest about who they are that we take a step back and freak out a bit. “i didn’t want you to be THAT honest.” it’s foreign to us. like my little girl telling me she doesn’t want me to tuck her in, she wants mommy. if she knew adult speak, she would let me down gently with an excuse for needing to talk to mommy about her income tax return. something like that. i’m getting tired of being phony.

so forget about polished appearances and be honest for once. follow your heart and be true to what you know. yes, i’m talking to myself.